Karzai Promises Change; Taliban Disses 'Puppet'

Insurgent 'brothers' reject the Afghan president's call for unity
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2009 6:48 AM CST
Afghan men celebrate Hamid Karzai's victory over Abdullah Abdullah in the Afghanistan's presidential election in Herat, Afghanistan, today.   (AP Photo/Fraidoon Pooyaa)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Hamid Karzai made some sweeping but non-specific promises to banish corruption and reach out to opponents today in his first press conference since being re-elected by default. The Afghan president also reached out to "Taliban brothers," urging them to "embrace their land," but his overtures were scorned by insurgent leaders who said the canceled runoff vote was a victory for them, the BBC reports.

Coalition countries had argued that the "puppet president Hamid Karzai was involved in electoral fraud," but now hail his victory "based on those same fraudulent votes," a statement from the Taliban scoffed. Karzai's leading opponent, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has said he won't join Karzai's administration but will push for reforms from the outside.